[life]: Successful Photo Shoot with Kids


Couple of years ago when our now budding toddler was just born we invested in a DSLR camera.  I did not know much about it and definitely did not have time on my hands to learn how to use it fully, so it was pretty much set on Auto and click away I did...

Some of the photos turned out great, some not so much, but either way it inspired me to try and have a little photo shoot with kids and hope for the best. I now rarely use Auto feature on the camera, as I tend to either select 'No Flash' setting or work with manual ones and I am much happier with results as I feel more in control even as there is still a lot of trial and error.. 

I love photos that appear unrehearsed, but as anyone who took any photos with kids can attest to, it requires quite a few takes before "the right" photo is achieved. During our travels I try to make great memorable photos, but it is often hard to focus on photo taking when you are either enjoying the atmosphere, scenery, sights or just relaxing. So I've started doing little photo shoot sessions in and outside the house.

Couple of days ago all of the kids seemed to be in a good mood prompting me to do an impromptu photo shoot. I got the kids to quickly dress into white clothes as I wanted to unify their look. Even if it is quite typical, white looks great in photos and it was one colour I could count on all four of them had in their closets. 

I also quickly decided on a setting - white armchair in front of fireplace. As the baby is only 3 weeks old, I needed something comfortable and safe where other kids could hold her. In retrospect, fireplace was not a great choice as the glass of the insert was reflecting light and I had hard time hiding my reflection in it. 

Kids cooperated for a most part - initially my toddler did not want anything to do with it until we turned it into a game and she just loves being part of games. But she also lost interest really soon. To get her back in, I think I bribed her with some chocolate as well and that typically works well with her. Baby started the shoot crying but as soon as I positioned her on the pillow, she calmed and was great for the rest of the time. She was alert, calm and seemed interested in what was happening. 

The oldest two are old pros at posing for photos but even then it is hard getting all four of them to be in sync and to have all the elements of a good photo happen at the right time. 

Finally, it is important not to drag it on for too long and avoid having them feel like it is a chore. This way they will be excited to participate when we do another impromptu session.

[home]: Our Tiny Family Room


Before we completed our basement renovation where we now have a really nice large open space (23 x 17 ft) we only had to contend with our tiny family room (9 x 20 ft). As you can see from the dimensions, it is quite narrow and technically as part of it is used to get to stairs going up to second floor and down to the basement, we can't even make full use of the room. 

What I still love about it is that is right off kitchen, it allows me to watch TV while cooking or watch the kids play there. There was nothing I hated more in our previous house than being completely cut off while in the kitchen and I always wanted more of an open space. While this house does not completely give us that as this family room is quite tiny, we still do have a space to sit in, relax in and watch TV that is right on the first floor and completely connected with kitchen (hmmm how many times will I repeat this phrase.. it is obviously quite important to me..)

I will go over improvements we made to this space in a separate Before & After post, for now I just wanted to share what this space currently looks like (even though I just switched the furniture around as a temporary arrangement) especially as I just completed the gallery wall I've been 'working on' for last few months. By 'working on' I mean that I placed two pictures up and then waited couple of months before I added the rest... Oh well.

Side note: It was hard to take good photos of the space due to reflection as I had to close of natural light as much as possible to reduce the reflection in TV and pictures with glass.

[decor]: Boy Room SourceBook


I am pretty happy with how our son's room turned out and he just loves it. Onto the sourcebook:

mirror - Home Sense
dresser - Restoration Hardware
lamp - Home Sense
hot air balloon print - purchased in France
navy burlap curtains - by Nate Berkus for Target
curtain rod, brackets and finials - Ikea from several years ago
green children chair - Pottery Barn Kids
rug - Pottery Barn Kids
toy chest - garage sale find
pirate ship - Home Sense
black world map wall art - Target
white ceramic elephant coin bank - Chapters/Indigo
children desk - Kijiji find
children chair - Kijiji find
green bucket - Pottery Barn Kids
desk lamp - Pottery Barn Kids
airplane (hanging from ceiling) - Pottery Barn Kids

hot air balloons print - Home Sense
twin bed frame - Ikea, from several years ago
sheet set - Pottery Barn Kids
quilted pillowcase - Pottery Barn Kids
bear - Build-a-Bear Workshop
green blanket - Ralph Lauren from Home Sense
lamp - Home Depot
wire basket - Home Sense

letter M - Home Sense
wooden wall pocket - Home Sense
framed vintage map of London - garage sale find
air transport print - Home Sense
little prince pop-up book - Anthropologie

blackboard/corkboard - Home Sense

lighthouse painting - Goodwill find
rocket hooks - Pottery Barn Kids

airplane print (held by washi tape arranged by my son) - purchased in France
washi tape - Home Sense
green airplane - Pottery Barn Kids

[style]: Interesting Space in Le Marais - Rue Beranger


Here is another interesting apartment for short term rent in Le Marais, Paris. It is a 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom space minutes from the enchanting Canal Saint-Martin. 

From the owner:
Rue Beranger is as romantic a respite as Paris has to offer. Its interior combines simplicity with chic finishings like the carefully adorned timber bookcases, parquet flooring and rouge Persian rugs, all framed by beautiful wooden beams. This open interior is illuminated from every angle: you won’t even need to flip a light switch when you awake on a sunny morning. But you can always draw the blinds and snuggle up before you swoop off in search of the perfect café in the Marais below.

[decor]: More Basement Updates


Since I shared our sofa find in our newly renovated basement, we managed to find some time with kids to make a few more updates:

1. put up shelves next to small off-center window to offset it. I still need to decorate and style the shelves.

2. played with faux roman using tension rods method - fabric is just folded and not cut yet. This made me decide that tension rods method (at least three of them) is not good for that I want in this window and will be working on a more permanent/fixed solution.

3. Finally - we decided to go with LACK floating shelf from Ikea to act as a sofa table. Unfortunately it also shows just how uneven the walls are. 

Going with this floating shelf also means not being able to use our new Visual Comfort lamps as they are too wide for shelf.  We decided to go with the shelf after we figured that we would not be able to use the lamps on the height we wanted anyway as there is not enough space between floating shelf and shelf next to window. 

Decision is to go with side tables to house the lamps (oh, I love them very much for this space) and below is temporary arrangement until we can find better side tables. This image also shows our white Ikea bedspread that we use on the couch.

Here are a few more photos of the space:

[decor]: Romans and Blinds Part Deux


In the first part of my romans and blinds saga, I shared some of the neat ideas on how to fake romans and what blinds I am looking at the moment. Here are a couple of more neat ideas to share:

  • Roman using blinds and slats (here)
via with Heart

via Fly Through My Window
  • Roman out of burlap with ribbons (here)
via Kris Krafting
I wanted to use burlap on one of the window treatments for a very long time, either as curtains or valance, but this example above makes them seem substantial which I like. I did end up using burlap curtains in my son's room, albeit dark blue one, but wanted to use this natural colour one as well. 

  • No-Sew Faux Relaxed Roman Shade (here or here)
via Our Fifth House
via with Heart

  • I am even thinking of cornice boards (here)
via Our Joy His Glory
  • Or no-sew valance using tension rods (here)
via Life.Love.Larson
As I have 10 windows to deal with, I will probably go with any combination of the above ones. I did a test drive of roman with tension rods in my basement and while I love how it looks, I am not crazy about how sturdy it is especially as we tend to open that window. I think I will probably go with more fixed solution. 

Above fabric is folded from a larger curtain and I like how heavy it looks and that light is not seeping through it. I will have to recreate that with a lining when the time comes to finalize these projects.

[decor]: Sofa Find


Following our extensive sofa search (described here, here and here) we ended up purchasing two sofas: one from Elte Outlet which we placed in our small family room off kitchen on the main floor, and second one from Restoration Hardware Outlet which made its way to our new family/media room in the basement.

I never showed the photos of either sofa and today is the day for the basement find. I am especially happy with our RH sofa - price was perfect at $850 and I still can't get used to just how comfortable it is. Size-wise it works really well - depth is perfect and width is just right even as originally we wanted to go with wider sofa or a sectional. Looking at the sofa now, 7ft is just right and anything bigger would have 'eaten up' the space.

Linen slipcover just makes me giddy and while not shown in the pictures, I put white bedspread from Ikea (INDIRA) to cover the seat. Lamp is Visual Comfort find on clearance from Home Sense for $49 (got a pair of them). Side table is also Home Sense find.

While I am not done decorating this sofa, I did grab a few on-sale pillows from Chapters/Indigo to use. 

We moved the sofa away from the wall as we were planning to add a sofa table behind it. During my stroll through Ikea I saw 72-inch long floating shelf (LACK) and bought it to add it instead of the sofa table. Considering that any table would be almost completely covered by sofa and wall, shelf would do the trick. Unfortunately, as I really want to use these lamps behind the sofa to give that space some visual interest, I would not be able to fit them on the shelf which is only 11 inches deep. So shelf is being returned and now I need to find another solution.

Just love this little pillow - it was $13 on sale!